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The 2016 European Car of the Year has been announced ahead of the Geneva Motor Show, and the Opel/Vauxhall Astra has been voted as this year’s winner by the jury, made up of 58 motoring journalists from 22 European countries.

The Astra K received a total of 309 points and 24 top marks from the jurors. It was a close fight between it and the Volvo XC90, which came in second with 294 points and 11 wins. Meanwhile, the Mazda MX-5 came in third with 202 points and 13 top marks.

Overall, the Astra was recognised for its functionality, performance and appeal, all the while being more compact but roomier as well. In addition to that, its powertrain options have been described as “more than adequate.”

At the same time, thanks to its adaptive damping and an optional sport setting, it was further described as possessing “a dynamic stance and moderate body roll, keeping a good quality ride.” Meanwhile, another winning factor was that it was up to 200 kg lighter (depending on model and trim) than its predecessor.

As for the equipment and gadgetry, including the OnStar system with on-board internet access (offered without charge for the first year) together with the Intellilink device which is available with the infotainment system, matrix LED headlights and optional ergonomic front seats with ventilation and massaging functions, were all key contributors to the decision. The optional items were noted for being “reasonably priced.”

It’s a significant feat for the Astra as it managed to beat contenders such as the Audi A4, BMW 7 Series, Jaguar XE and the Skoda Superb – all of which were final nominees. On a larger scale, the Astra emerged ahead of 35 models, the list including the Honda HR-V, Kia Optima, Mazda CX-3 and Subaru Levorg.

GALLERY: Opel/Vauxhall Astra